Czechs observe day of mourning for victims of Prague shooting

Life in Czechia came to a standstill at midday on Saturday, December 23, as the nation held a minute of silence in memory of the victims of Thursday’s tragic shooting incident at the Faculty of Arts in Prague.

Photo: Michal Krumphanzl,  ČTK

Bells tolled around the country, flags were flown at half-mast and many people stopped in their tracks at midday in a show of respect for those slain in Thursday’s shootings. Even Prague’s busy international airport stopped operations to observe a minute of silence for the 14 lives senselessly cut short.

The usual Christmas bustle was visibly muted and many Czechs headed for the impromptu memorials sites outside Charles University’s main building, the Faculty of Arts and other places around the country at which the sea of candles and flowers has been growing by the hour.

Photo: Michal Krumphanzl,  ČTK

At 11 am President Pavel, members of the government, parliament, academics, students and members of the public attended a mass at St. Vitus Cathedral in memory of the victims. The Archbishop of Prague Jan Graubner led the prayers for the innocent victims killed in the rampage, those fighting for their lives in Prague hospitals and families and friends who are still reeling from the tragedy.

Planned cultural and sports events have generally been cancelled or postponed and Czech Radio and Television have rescheduled their programs to match the occasion.

Photo: Luděk Peřina,  Radio Prague International

Although Christmas markets around the country remain open, they are either silent or with muted music. Live performances have been cancelled.

Czechs have also shown their solidarity with those whose lives were directly touched by this tragedy donating over 19 million crowns in just two days to collections in aid of the victims’ families. Help lines have been set up and psychologists are ready to assist those in need of help.

Photo: Luděk Peřina,  Radio Prague International

Archbishop Graubner expressed his condolences to the victims’ families and said the priests of the Prague Archdiocese are available to provide spiritual support to all. He said he was praying for the victims and their families and friends.

Pope Francis has also said he is “deeply saddened” by the loss of innocent lives. In a telegram sent following the attack, the Pope expressed his “spiritual closeness to all affected by this tragedy” and assured the nation of his prayers at this difficult time.

Condolences and offers of help have come from leaders the world over.

Photo: Zuzana Jarolímková,